THUNDER BAY -- The head of the local United Steelworkers’ union is holding out hope a buyer can be found to salvage 80 jobs at the former Lakehead Marine Industrial, whose owner filed for bankruptcy last week.
Herb Daniher on Wednesday said they’ve scheduled a July 16 meeting with the trustees handling the bankruptcy case, noting the company, which once employed nearly 600 people, has been on the market for several months without success.
“What we’re hoping is going to happen here, although there’s no guarantee, is that sometimes when you go through that particular process then the bankruptcy trustee is required to look for buyers,” Daniher said.
“And we think that there is potential, that there might be some interest, although I’m not privy to who that might be.”
Daniher is convinced it can remain a viable plant, despite the challenges facing the shipping and shipbuilding industry in recent years.
He added his membership and other union officials plan to use their contacts in the industry to independently seek out possible buyers.
Daniher said the company was bought seven years ago.
LMI is described on the company website as a “large fabrication and heavy machinery facility” that’s been serving the marine, mining, oil and gas, forestry and energy industries since 1910.
Daniher said the ship repair aspect is especially important at this end of the Great Lakes.
He added he’d like to see the province step in at some point and enact legislation that would stop companies from simply walking away from their obligations, though he did say it appears LMI has paid all of its bills.
“There’s something wrong with the equation and there’s not a balanced playing field out there.”
Company officials declined comment last week when the news broke.
Daniher did say workers are willing to come to the table if new owners are found, although he added he thinks their wages are competitive and that workers have been seeking to help the company find efficiencies.
“And if somebody else steps up to the plate here, we’re fully ready to come to bat,” he said. “But seven years ago when this happened, we didn’t have to make any changes to the collective agreement because we think the collective agreement is appropriate.”